Roy Lichtenstein - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 20, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Roy Lichtenstein approached the distinguished artistic genre of the female nude late in his career, innovating on a classic subject with his Pop Art treatment. Developed from comic book figures which defined his early successful works, Lichtenstein’s Nudes series, comprised of nine prints, refined and expanded upon his distinctive dialect of bold patterns and bright colors. The use of Benday dots, generated by computer for the first time in Lichtenstein’s work, create a playful chiaroscuro. Expansion in palate, beyond the primary red, blues and yellows of his early style, mark Lichtenstein’s refinement of the Pop Art signature style. The final major series before his death in 1997, Lichtenstein’s Nudes exemplify his innovative spirit while remaining true to the bright, playful style he pioneered.

    Lichtenstein composed his nude figures from printed sources, taking comic book characters and removing their clothing. The artist explains:
    "with my nudes there's so little sense of body flesh or skin tones – they're so unrealistic – that using them underscored the separation between reality and artistic convention"
    —Roy Lichtenstein

  • Removing the forms of his heroines from the confines of reality, Lichtenstein used the minimalistic detail of the nude figures as a foil to his more involved domestic interiors. The emphasis on background rather than human subject highlights his interest in in the genre of the nude as a space for further refining his color and pattern applications.

    As with many of Lichtenstein’s works, Roommates is a study in contrast. The “undulating and volumetric” forms of the women serve to emphasize the “rigid geometry” of their surrounding interiors (quoted in Robert Hurlburt, “Lichtenstein Returns to Comic-Book Style”, Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, November 1994). The relief printing of key outlines produces bold lines which crisply delineate the border between living things and domestic scenery. Transcending these divergent elements, the bright dots tie the composition together and emphasize the unity of the piece. In Roommates a field of blue dots connects the two female figures, raising questions about the nature of their relationship. Lichtenstein employs these playful allusions throughout the Nudes series, drawing the viewers eye to distinctive details amidst a lively composition.


    John Hutcheson using a brayer to ink the woodblock on the lithography offset press bed for the black print run of Roy Lichtenstein's color relief print Roommates, Tyler Graphics Ltd. workshop, Mount Kisco, New York, 1994. Photograph by Marabeth Cohen-Tyler.

    Although innovative, Lichtenstein was deeply aware of his art within the context of the Western cannon, drawing inspiration from Modern movements, such as Cubism and Impressionism and masters like Picasso and Matisse. Referencing his own oeuvre as well, Lichtenstein integrated motifs found in earlier works from the series’ Mirrors, Waterlilies, Interiors and Imperfects. As a final series, Lichtenstein’s Nudes reflect a maturity of style which perfectly integrates the elements of his earlier work, imparting layered references and myriad meanings to each composition. 

    • Provenance

      Gift of the artist
      Leo Castelli Gallery, New York

    • Literature

      Mary Lee Corlett 282

    • Artist Biography

      Roy Lichtenstein

      One of the most influential and innovative American artists of the post-war period, Roy Lichtenstein ushered in the prominence of Pop Art through his high-impact representations of consumer imagery, common entertainment, and the accoutrements of contemporary life rendered in the Ben-Day dots of contemporary comic strips. Central to Lichtenstein’s practice was parody, which enabled the artist to engage with often-disparaged commercial source imagery from an ironic distance as he considered the nature of the banal and probed the boundaries of what fine art could be.


      While Lichtenstein’s early Pop work cemented his status as one of the main figures of one of the most iconic and original movements of postmodernism, he continued to develop his practice over the course of the following decades until his death in 1997. Retaining his characteristic comic style and ironic distance, Lichtenstein engaged new and disparate influences from Abstract Expressionism to Chinese landscape painting to evolve the subject of his own work and consider the contradictions of representation, style, and substance. Lichtenstein is a central figure in the 20th century art historical canon and accordingly his work is represented in the collections of major museums worldwide, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

      View More Works

Property from an Important Private Collection


Roommates, from Nudes Series (C. 282)

Monumental relief print in colors, on Rives BFK paper, with full margins, the colors bright and fresh.
I. 57 5/8 x 45 in. (146.4 x 114.3 cm)
S. 64 1/8 x 51 in. (162.9 x 129.5 cm)

Signed, dated and numbered 'AP 5/10' in pencil (an artist's proof, the edition was 40), published by Tyler Graphics, Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York (with their blindstamp), framed.

Full Cataloguing

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $428,400

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 20 - 22 April 2021